Institutional Resource Mobilisation in Action Against Hunger Germany

Lessons learned from Action Against Hunger Germany’s work in institutional fundraising. From the Learning Review 2018.


Action Against Hunger Germany started its operations in Berlin at the end of 2014. Initially, the Berlin office’s focus was on fundraising from private donors. Germany is the second largest Official Development Assistance (ODA) donor globally, with over €21.8 billion donated in 2017. The high potential for institutional partnerships for the Action Against Hunger network (in terms of growth, diversification of funding and advocacy) was soon explored. Two main donors shape the German institutional donor landscape: the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Both the GFFO and the BMZ are centralised donors, meaning that they can only sign grant contracts with German NGOs as per legal requirements. Therefore, the majority of BMZ funds are commissioned to two state owned private entities: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), focused on technical cooperation, and Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) focused on financial cooperation. Today, our Programme and Advocacy team in Germany serves as a knowledge hub for German donors, identifies funding opportunities and advocates for a world without hunger with the support of the international network of Action Against Hunger.


Currently, Action Against Hunger Germany faces three main challenges:

  • Our position as a new actor in the German humanitarian aid and development cooperation landscape: As in most other donor countries, the aid environment is extremely competitive. Even though Action Against Hunger is a key humanitarian actor and leading expert in nutrition, we are a new partner in Germany. As a new stakeholder, we need to increase our visibility and credibility among key stakeholders while at the same time facing limited internal resources.
  • Complex processes of accreditation with our main institutional donors: Accreditation with German donors has proven to be a very lengthy and bureaucratic process. We successfully finalised the accreditation with the GFFO in 2018 and received funding for the first pilot project in South Sudan. The GFFO expects new partners to implement a pilot project before applying for further funding. Accreditation with the BMZ for development and transitional aid is ongoing, but a pilot project is planned for 2019. After successful accreditation, cooperation with both GFFO and BMZ has massive potential to grow and expand, but only gradually over time. As such, the management of both Action Against Hunger Germany’s and the wider network’s expectations of the fast growing German funding portfolio will be necessary.
  • Using our access to GIZ funding to build our reputation and show consistency in representation vis-á-vis the German donors: So far, the only possibilities to access significant funding from German institutional donors has been via GIZ. Therefore, it has been a high priority to demonstrate our high quality project implementation. Through the German office’s strategic overview of this relationship, we are aiming to consistently and positively represent the network as a whole to this donor.



The support that we receive from technical and advocacy experts from the network has been key in establishing Action Against Hunger Germany as a visible and credible partner in the German aid landscape. For example, regular emails, Skype exchanges, updates on needs and emergencies have enabled us to take an active part in discussions with GFFO on the current humanitarian situation in Yemen and Syria. With the support of the network’s advocacy experts, we organised highly successful Syria and Yemen lobbies and were consequently able to increase our visibility and credibility with the GFFO and other institutional partners.

The visibility and support we get from the network’s technical and advocacy experts also helps us in the accreditation processes with the GFFO and BMZ. Both ministries expect their partners in Germany to be strong, independent organisations who are able to generate and contribute to the relevant discussions within Germany, so the voice of prominent experts is hugely beneficial. The experts from our network enable us to fill this role by sharing their experience and knowledge with us. Learning from INGO peers that have recently established offices in Germany, like the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) or the International Rescue Committee (IRC), shows how the accreditation processes can be facilitated. Likewise, learning from our INGO peers on relevant institutional funding and the use of advocacy to maximise our influence and reach are hugely valuable and are key to establishing a strong and long-lasting presence in Germany.

Finally, access to GIZ funding has been a huge driver of growth for us and has built our reputation with GIZ (and with its back donors BMZ and GFFO). Since the establishment of Action Against Hunger Germany in 2014, around €20 million has been secured from GIZ. Signing these contracts has allowed us to demonstrate our capacity and has contributed enormously to being as advanced in the accreditation processes as we now are.


Even though GIZ is not a centralised donor and formal contracts can be signed by other country offices, the majority of contracts have been signed by Action Against Hunger Germany, demonstrating several advantages to this approach:

  • Better contract conditions: Through our established line of communication with the GIZ contract department in Eschborn, we are able to collect and collate information from all contracts, can advise country offices on contracting, and can negotiate conditions with GIZ for the advantage of all country programmes.
  • Better compliance understanding: Action Against Hunger Germany is the compliance hub for GIZ. We collect and collate compliance information from all GIZ contracts and advise country offices. Furthermore, we are in constant communication with other German INGOs on GIZ, and therefore BMZ, compliance regulations.
  • Overall strategic development and global project coordination: GIZ country offices often have autonomy when choosing their implementing partners. This is why one important entry point for engagement with GIZ is in-country. However, there is strong centralised structure in Germany. The regional desks hold significant line management responsibility and have significant influence on the global strategy and programmatic development function.
  • GIZ funding can directly open doors for funding from other German institutional donors. One practical example is that of Mali. Initial engagement at GIZ headquarters level in Germany (with close involvement of the Mali country office) lead to two phases of GIZ funding. Action Against Hunger Germany provided support to the Action Against Hunger country programme and at the same time kept the donor in the loop and organised regular follow-up meetings. The combination of the successful implementation through the Mali country office and the support in terms of donor engagement and compliance contributed to an increase in visibility and led to Action Against Hunger having a better reputation with German donors. This eventually resulted in funding from the other major German donor, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW).



Our focus will continue to be on establishing Action Against Hunger as a reliable partner to German donors through quality programme implementation and close engagement. We will continue to provide our support to other Action Against Hunger headquarters and country offices on proposals, reports, contract negotiations, due diligence, compliance and funding opportunities.

GIZ will stay as our major focus for donor engagement, and once the accreditation process with GFFO and BMZ is finalised we will be able to grow our relationships with these donors as well. We also see a lot of potential with KfW in the future. After our success with funding for Mali, we are currently working on a second KfW contract and have invested a lot in establishing contacts at KfW headquarters level to build this relationship and identify further funding opportunities.


About this document

Section: Learning

Thematic Area: Resource Mobilisation

Location: Germany

Type: Article

Language: English

Key Information


Author: Jörg Mühlbach, Head of Programs and Advocacy, Germany; Mareike Badoreck, Manager International Programs and Institutional Partnerships, Germany

Year Published: 2018
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